Your first experience of Italy was when you arrived in Naples at 18….. «I thought I’d landed in paradise. I was playing in a striptease bar and it was easy to fall in love with your country because it’s full of wonderful things.»
Goran Bregovic ’s recent music is a mix of Balkan folk and electronica, wild rhythms and sacred themes, hints of gipsy and sampled sounds, but he became famous for his soundtracks for Emir Kusturica’s films, including Tempo dei Gitani, Arizona Dream, and Underground. However when you ask him about cinema he glosses over it with a rather decisive…..
by Marco Polchi & Cristina Crisci
«Life is short, I’m a certain age and I’m not much of a film score composer. What I did is part of my biography, but now I’ve moved on and I want to do concerts.»
You’re one of those who live on stage and longs to get up there every day?
«For example, if you were to ask me what I want to do at 9.00 p.m., I’d tell you that I want to play with my band on stage; because I have fun, I’m happy to play with them. Playing is a party.»
Bregovic speaks a laid back Italian. In late August his tour ‘If you don’t go crazy, you’re not normal’, hit Città di Castello at the Festival delle Nazioni. 500,000 people were there to listen to him. Our appointment was at the Hotel Tiferno. Wearing jeans, boldly flowered black shirt with wild hair Goran never takes off his sunglasses, but he’s a nice, quiet and open bloke. While sipping a coffee he smiles and lets on:
«I arrived an hour ago and I’ve eaten everything there was.»
Maestro Goran Bregovic, for someone like you who’s played since you were young, what does music represent today?
«My music? It’s a mixture of sounds and stories, born in the Balkan frontier, a mysterious land where three cultures – Orthodox, Catholic and Muslim – intersect. I don’t know, I’m a contemporary composer and I’m always surprised whenever I do a concert and so many people come to listen to me. Because of this I think my music is a miracle.»
There are no special effects at your concerts, but there are many musicians on stage, lots of colour, and you… always dressed in white…
«Someone advised me and I agreed. Actually I do it so that no one ever forgets me!»
How did your orchestra the ‘Wedding & funeral band’ get its name?
«Because the musicians really do play at weddings and funerals. It’s the Orthodox tradition; after the funeral you eat, you drink and for a little while the pain gives way to music.»
What music do you listen to when you’re not playing?
«Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I’m like an old gynecologist: when I get home I stop work!»
Currently the Balkans, like Italy, are the focus of the immigration issue …
«They are poor passing among the poor, at least with regards to Serbia and Macedonia. There are columns of migrants moving from the South, and nobody knows how to manage this problem; it’s the result of an irresponsible policy. I’m very sad about it.»
You currently live in France with your family. How do you feel when you go back to to Sarejevo?
«Sarajevo is a small town, but it’s scored a major victory in that it’s held tight to its cultural infrastructure. Despite what’s happened, if you go to Sarajevo the theatres are full, so too are the streets, and cultural events are rich because people have realized they must defend what’s most precious to them. However, I think there are still too many mosques and churches.»
What do you have planned for the future?
«I’m working on a new album of seven songs due out by the end of the year called ‘Three Letters from Sarajevo’. I’ve put together Christian, Jewish and Muslim musical traditions. I feel lucky in that music allows me to do good things that politics does not.»